Sleepers. Breakouts. Busts. Bargains. Overrated. Underrated. That’s about all we think about in the weeks (months, for many of us) leading up to the fantasy NBA season. Even if your methods are sound, you’re not going to be right about all of them. Of course, that’s mainly due to injuries that directly affected the number of games played or indirectly affected a player’s role. But despite that, I thought it would be fun to review the season’s biggest overachievers and underachievers. Pat yourself on the back for good ones. Know that we feel your pain caused by the bad ones.

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I used to enjoy watching Get Smart, a satirical secret agent show. Agent Maxwell Smart is a fumbling, bumbling, stumbling secret agent who always saves the day somehow. One of the catch phrases of the show is “Missed it by that much!” Which would’ve been appropriate to say whenever Marcus Smart jacked up a shot, as he could barely hit the side of a barn in past seasons. This season, though, he’s vastly improved the shooting and is therefore able to put up lines like this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
21 6 4 3 1 1 2/5 8/14 3/3

The 21 points tied a season high! Smart is shooting 42% from the field and 36% from downtown this season. Over his first four seasons in the league, he had never posted a mark better than 37% from the field and 33% from downtown. As a result, while he always provided boards, dimes, and stocks, he was never able to crack the top 100 for fantasy on a per-game basis. This season, he’s a top 85 player and has had streaks where he’s been a top 60 player. Get Smart y’all!

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Not that anyone is keeping score, but I made James Harden the highlighted player last week, so it feels kind of weak to be back here raving about the bearded one in back-to-back weeks. That said, there’s absolutely nothing weak about this ridiculous scoring effort. He actually posted an absurd 27 points in the first quarter alone, so anyone watching it live knew it could be a special night.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
19/34 14/17 9/13 61 7 1 3 0 3

Shooting 55.9% from the field and 14-for-17 from the line is massive for any fantasy team. He didn’t put up his usual assist numbers, but we can’t really complain about a 60-point game. While a 61-point game is huge (this was actually Harden’s 2nd 61-point game of the season), he’s deep in the MVP race and should continue to bolster fantasy squads that are making their championship runs.

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Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick of the Cavs in the 2018 NBA Draft, started the season off slowly. He came off the bench the first 10 games of the season, averaging 23 minutes, 10.5 points, and shooting 40% from the field. He was inserted into the starting lineup for game number 11 and has held onto that role all season. There were ups and downs, as the shooting efficiency was poor and the contributions in the other categories were minimal. For fantasy, he was a top 250 player. Something has clicked, though.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
25 2 3 0 0 4 4/7 10/18 1/1

Sexton has now scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. He’s been a top 35 player over that span. Maybe he ate a blue pill or something. Anyways, you know the warning: call a doctor if erection last longer than 4 hours. Well, Sexton has been going on for much longer than that and he’s in straight DGAF mode right now, averaging over 17 shots per game. Here’s the thing, though. He’s shooting 56% from the field. He’s not going to be able to maintain that efficiency forever. And when that comes down, you’ll be holding a limp biscuit because Sexton doesn’t contribute much in the other categories. Very miminal contributions in the D cats and around 3 boards and dimes each. Enjoy the hot streak, but this Sexton will not last forever.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Domantas Sabonis missed five games due to an ankle injury. His first game back, he played 20 minutes and shot 1-for-7 from the field and scored 9 points. In the second game, Sabonis only played 18 minutes but shot 4-of-12 from the field and scored 10 points. Since we all live on Planet Earth, we have all experienced a storm. They don’t magically appear out of nowhere. A combination of low and high pressure systems merge, form clouds, and often produce high-speed winds. You can see the clouds approaching or feel the wind picking up. In its most severe form, a storm brings a deluge of rain, crackling thunder, and a light show that would make the greatest of deejays jealous. That’s what occurred in Indiana last night, as Sabonis made it rain and lit up the Thunder:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 7 4 0 1 0 0 7/12 12/13

In 28 minutes. When Sabonis is right, he provides points, boards, some dimes, and a smattering of stocks. He also shoots close to 60% from the field and over 70% from the line. The main issue for Sabonis is the minutes, though, as Nate McMillan likes to go with Thaddeus Young at power forward alongside Myles Turner. As a result, he only averages around 24-25 minutes per game. Last night against the Thunder, Sabonis was abusing Jerami Grant, so McMillan stayed big, but outside of obvious matchups or injury, I wouldn’t consider last night to be the norm going forward. Storms don’t happen often, and ones with both lightning and thunder are rare.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Out of all the sports, basketball is the most projectable, as there are more possessions to provide a larger sample size. But that doesn’t mean variance doesn’t exist. Blake Griffin can miraculously block a shot one game or DeAndre Jordan can shoot 8-for-9 from the free throw line on any given night. The LA nightlife can affect a team’s performance or the hotel wifi could cause players to go on tilt which affects their performance on the court. Whatever the reason, shit happens sometimes.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
33 3 0 0 0 2 8/12 11/16 3/4

C. J. Miles did that. C. J. Miles never does that. He hasn’t scored more than 15 points in any game this season. To be fair, C. J. Miles used to do that. His career high is 40 points, back in 2010. In his prime, he’d only average around 12-13 points, but he’d go off for 30+ points every once in a while. Anyways, he will likely score 5 points in the next game, so in no way am I advocating walking 500 Miles with him. With that said, it’s always nice to acknowledge greatness, even if it probably won’t be replicated.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I usually highlight a player for the lede, but today, it’s all about the playoffs for many of you. You’ve scratched and clawed for 21 weeks. If you heeded my advice, you also likely sacrificed a few virgins as well. Anyways, don’t get complacent now. Utilize all your moves for the week. Send out the scouts and project your opponent. Where is he/she weak? How does your squad match up? Games played, minutes, and opportunities are truly king now. It’s win this week or go home. I wish everyone good fortune and let’s bring home some chips for the Razzball family!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what I saw in yesterday’s action:

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As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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You’re all aware of the safety warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” right? If not, please text me before you drive so I can stay home. Anyways, the warning is placed on the side mirrors of cars because the convexity of the mirror, while allowing one to see more area, also makes objects appear smaller. This gives the impression that an object is closer than it appears. So easy a SON can get it. Well, if you’ve been reading me all year, you know that I walked 500 Myles earlier in the season. It was a challenging endeavor, but all worth it in the end, as last night Myles Turner was able to post a career-high in…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
10 11 2 0 7 2 1/1 3/11 3/4

…..blocks. He had posted 6 blocks in a game five times in his career. Now, due to my loyalty when things were tough, Myles let me ride shotgun as we drove along the coast and reminsced. As he was telling me stories of his childhood, I got freaked out when I saw Brook Lopez’s face in the mirror. It kept getting bigger and bigger, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I was about to pass out when Myles just turned, smirked, and said, “chill out, Son. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” He then calmly explained that Lopez was a distant second to him in blocks because he played seven fewer games. Myles has 159 blocks on the season in 57 games, compared to 143 in 64 games for Lopez. That breaks down to 2.79 vs 2.23. Whew. Anyways, from a fantasy perspective, the blocks are great and he provides tres from the big man position, but because he likes to hang out on the perimeter, the boards, points, and efficiency from the field are light. He also doesn’t provide dimes. With that said, over the past four games, he’s been a top 25 player primarily on the blocks alone, as he’s Myles ahead of the competition in that category.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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If you grew up in the 90s, there’s no doubt you heard “Steal My Sunshine” by Len. The radio stations only played it five times every hour for months on end. Remember, this was before iPods, iPhones, Spotify, and XM Radio. It was also a time when MTV and VH1 would actually….you know…play music videos, so the inundation was widespread and impossible to eradicate. The song had a nice summer vibe to it and made one feel happy, but if you dig into the lyrics, it’s about depression…at least in the beginning, but the song is ultimately about overcoming depression and being happy. Well, Alex Len has been a source of depression for fantasy owners for a long, long time. We’ve always been tantalized by the potential but he could never put it together on a consistent basis. Last night, though, it all came together….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
28 9 2 0 2 0 5/8 9/18 5/8

…at least for one night, a career-high night in points no less. Now, don’t get gassed because he received his first start since late December, as John Collins and Omari Spellman both did not play due to injury. He did play 36 minutes in the prior game and put up 24/10, but that game went to triple overtime. In addition, both games were against the Bulls. Put your head down in shame Bulls. Anyways, when the Hawks get healthy, Len will return to coming off the bench and receiving fewer than 20 minutes of run, but keep in mind that when injuries strike, Len does have some upside. He has eight dub-dubs on the season.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?